Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://hdl.handle.net/2440/123448
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Type: Journal article
Title: Digital terrain analysis reveals new insights into the topographic context of Australian Aboriginal stone arrangements
Author: Law, W.B.
Slack, M.J.
Ostendorf, B.
Lewis, M.M.
Citation: Archaeological Prospection, 2017; 24(2):169-179
Publisher: Wiley
Issue Date: 2017
ISSN: 1075-2196
1099-0763
Statement of
Responsibility: 
W. Boone Law, Michael J. Slack, Bertram Ostendorf and Megan M. Lewis
Abstract: Satellite‐derived surface elevation models are an important resource for landscape archaeological studies. Digital elevation data is useful for classifying land features, characterizing terrain morphology, and discriminating the geomorphic context of archaeological phenomena. This paper shows how remotely sensed elevation data obtained from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Advanced Land Observing Satellite was integrated with local land system spatial data to digitally classify the topographic slope position of seven broad land classes. The motivation of our research was to employ an objective method that would allow researchers to geomorphometrically discriminate the topographic context of Aboriginal stone arrangements, an important archaeological site type in the Pilbara region of northwest Australia. The resulting digital terrain model demonstrates that stone arrangement sites are strongly correlated with upper topographic land features, a finding that contradicts previous site recordings and fundamentally changes our understanding of where stone arrangement sites are likely to have been constructed. The outcome of this research provides investigators with a stronger foundation for testing hypotheses and developing archaeological models. To some degree, our results also hint at the possible functions of stone arrangements, which have largely remained enigmatic to researchers.
Keywords: Australian Aboriginal archaeology; stone arrangement; Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS); geomorphometry, topographic position index, digital elevation model (DEM)
Description: Published online 16 February 2017 in Wiley Online Library
Rights: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. © 2017 The Authors. Archaeological Prospection Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
DOI: 10.1002/arp.1567
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 8
Ecology, Evolution and Landscape Science publications

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